HOUSE Majority Leader and Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez on Tuesday appealed to the good heart of Filipinos to ensure the door-to-door delivery of essential commodities to those who have been afflicted by the coronavirus disease-19 (COVID-19) instead of discriminating them.
“Please help PUIs (persons under investigation), PUMs (persons under monitoring) and COVID-19 patients to stay indoors by showing compassion and kindness to them. Let’s ensure that their basic essentials, including medicines during the extended enhanced community quarantine in Luzon will reach their doorsteps,” said Romualdez, co-chairman of the House Defeat COVID-19 Ad Hoc Committee and one of the principal authors of the “Bayanihan Heal as One Act of 2020" or Republic Act (RA) No. 11469.
Romualdez lamented the incident where a health worker was splashed with bleach and other reports of others being kicked out of their rented houses.
Ako Bisaya party-list Rep. Sonny Lagon echoed Romualdez’s position, saying suspected COVID-19 carriers and patients “should be spared of all inconveniences and helping them stay indoors would help guarantee the success of President (Rodrigo) Duterte’s extended ECQ in Luzon until April 30 to defeat the spread of the highly contagious disease.”
Lagon also joined calls to stop the condemnable act of discriminating frontliners and returning overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).
“We should cease from discriminating our medical frontliners. They have been risking their lives and some even died so that other people live. They don’t deserve to suffer more, including our OFWs whose remittances have been helping pumped prime our economy,” Lagon stressed.
Deputy Speaker and Citizens Battle Against Corruption (CIBAC) party-list Rep. Eduardo “Bro. Eddie” Villanueva and CIBAC Rep. Domingo Rivera strongly condemned the reported incident wherein stones were hurled at the houses of confirmed COVID-19 infected persons in the province of Iloilo.
“It is with grave dismay that we denounce, in strongest terms, such barbaric act of hurling stones at the home and relatives of people confirmed with COVID-19, or any disease for that matter.
The perpetrators should be arrested and be dealt with accordingly so as to send a message to the people that we will not tolerate such act,” Deputy Speaker and Citizens Battle Against Corruption (CIBAC) party-list Rep. Eduardo “Bro. Eddie” Villanueva lamented.
“We call on everyone not to imitate nor resort to this kind of savage and ‘unFilipino’ treatment of people positive of COVID-19 for it will stir further chaos and instability especially in these distressing times. The loved ones of people who contracted COVID-19 disease should be treated with utmost compassion, sensitivity and understanding because even they themselves did not wish to be in their situation,” Villanueva added.
For his part, CIBAC Rep. Domingo Rivera reiterated government’s call to be responsible and practice social distancing as well as other protocols amid this health crisis.
“This is in order to prevent oneself from being a victim or from being a carrier of the virus,” said Rivera.
Villanueva and Rivera responded to the incident last week in Lambunao, Iloilo where unknown individuals tracked down the residence of a COVID-19 positive family and threw stones at their house.
The COVID-19 patients inside the home pelted with stones included a 70-year-old mother, 48-year-old daughter, 41-year-old son, and 39-year-old daughter.
“When we resume work in Congress, CIBAC Party-list will push for a bill that will impose stiffer penalties to acts that promote stigma, hate and inflict cruelty to people with dreaded disease. People suffering from any kind of disease deserve to be loved and be understood, not to be vilified and harmed. We will ensure that our laws will deter such degree of discrimination from happening again,” said Villanueva.
In a press conference through Facebook Monday afternoon, House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano also appealed for fairness, kindness and humanity to communities with confirmed COVID-19 cases to do everything in ensuring that essentials are delivered to them.
"Kung mayroon tayong identified na positive o kaya binabantayan at mas mabuting hindi makalabas, tayo na ang magpakita ng pakikipag-kapwa tao na tulungan sila upang hindi na nila kailangang lumabas, kasi you go back again to why we are doing all of this, we are doing this to save lives," said Cayetano.
Cayetano narrated the information relayed to him by his wife, Taguig City-Pateros Rep. Lani Cayetano about a COVID-19 positive resident near their place who experienced discrimination.
"Merong isang malapit sa amin, so looban nila 'yung community may nagpositive ni ayaw daw tanggapin ng tindahan ang pera pag may pinapabili," said Cayetano. "Sabi ko nga kay Lani, let us keep explaining and then pahatiran talaga ng pagkain at needs nila.”
He said everyone has the capability to save many lives by ceasing from discriminating PUIs, PUMs, COVID-19 patients, frontliners, and returning OFWs.
"Kung ‘yung tao isa-shut natin, kung ‘yung tao hindi makakain, kung iyung tao ay diabetic, may hika at high blood tapos ‘di natin bibigyan ng tamang gamot at medical attention then we will not be saving lives, nasaan ang humanity in all of that?" Cayetano pointed out.
Even Sen. Sonny Angara, who is now cleared of COVID-19, was not spared from discrimination.
While expressing gratitude to the understanding of their neighbors who showed them acts of kindness, Tootsy Angara, the senator’s wife, took to Instagram to disclose that “some have refused to deliver essentials to our home” and “a neighbor wished to have us out of our neighborhood.”
Angara, who immediately distanced himself from the public when the Senate was hit by the virus scare and bravely admitted being COVID-19 positive, later confirmed that he donated his two months salary to fight the dreaded virus.
It was learned that portions of Angara's salary were donated to the Philippine General Hospital, a fundraising project of his alma mater, Xavier School to defeat COVID-19, procurement of face masks and disinfectants for at least five hospitals, as well as food packs to some nine barangays in Metro Manila.